Making This Place Our Home - Side Doors & Big Windows
Building Your Dream House
I think it’s everyone’s wish to at some point to build their own dream house. From scratch. Just the way you want it.
Not everyone, of course, gets that chance but oh what a thrill if you could build your own house just the way you want to.
It would be great to have the rooms laid out just so. The finishing touches would be the way you always wanted them. Windows and doors would be the sizes they should be.
Nothing would be cookie cutter. There would be no building off someone else’s blueprint. Everything would be done from scratch.
What would your dream house look like? How big would your kitchen and living room be? Where would you put the bedrooms and how big would they be? What would the bathrooms look like? What would you do with the basement? How would you have your windows? What colors and finish would you choose?
Everybody wants a nest and, for most, the idea of their very own dream home remains very much a dream. But imagine if you could!
Come on, dream with me a little today.
Mission, Values, Vision
Dreaming is what we’ve been doing at Scott St Church for the last couple of weeks. Actually, it’s more than a dream. We’ve put some wings underneath our dreams and are determined to make our dream home a reality right here at our church.
After all, a family needs a home, right? Here we are the family of God and we need a home. Not a physical home, since we already have that, but a spiritual house.
Scripture is very clear that the family of God needs a spiritual home to be housed:
“As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:4-5
Among the Corinthians, Paul saw himself and his peers as the developers and builders:
“By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care.” I Cor. 3:10
So for us to talk this way is very biblical. Who are the builders and developers here if not the pastors, elders and ministry leaders?
In fact, our leadership team sought your input and ideas with a good number of you choosing to respond and participate in our survey and round table conversations, with the result being the blueprints of our very own Scott St dream house that we have outlined the last couple of weeks.
Just a quick recap (in case you missed it), we talked about the foundation as being none other than Jesus Christ as our Savior.
Here is how we stated it: “To be a loving family who embrace the good news of Jesus and share it with everyone” with the optimum words being the good news that Jesus saves even as Peter wrote:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
1 Peter 2:6.
Some call this their mission, but for us it’s our foundation and what everything gets built on.
Then we talked about the ingredients or texture in our cement that we would build with. This is like taking the cement, sand and water and mixing it up to help the living stones be set right.
Things such as:
All of these find their inspiration in the Great Commandments with passion for God, prayer, worship and devotion to Christ being all about loving God.
Families should be strong, the church should be a safe place, and everyone welcomed as being all about loving our neighbors.
Some call these ‘core values’ but for us they are the cement that sets the stones in place.
So this house we are building has a strong foundation and some great materials we are building with.
Then last Sunday we talked about the blueprints we are building from, which point to both location and the shape our house should be:
This is how we worded it: We want to step into God’s dream for the North End that sees us becoming a welcoming spiritual community where we live out passionate faith, support personal growth, provide holistic care, match resources with needs and spark innovation.
Some call this the ‘vision’, but for us it’s the shape, size and positioning of the house we are building.
It’s like saying this is the lot where we want to build it and this is the look of it.
Positioning the House
Then the last thing that we should be thinking about is making sure it’s warm and cozy, with lots of windows for looking out and doors for coming in, and positioned in such a way that it can capitalize on its environment.
You want a house to capture the natural movement of the sun for maximum exposure, right?
You want a house to capitalize on its natural environment. You don’t want to be staring at the back of a condo tower. You want to see trees, rolling hills and sparkling water.
This is your dream house, so the last thing you want is to have it be positioned wrong.
This last piece of our dream house is about positioning.
Again, if you think that is a secular concept and we shouldn’t be talking about positioning our church in the environment outside of us, then you need to see the Scriptures with a fresh set of eyes.
I see positioning among the churches of the New Testament. Not only among the seven churches of Revelation, where each church was positioned to reflect the local dynamic of a particular city both good and bad but also in the Book of Acts you can see the positioning of churches to reflect local dynamics on the ground.
For example, the church in Jerusalem very intentionally opened itself up to its surroundings. The 120 who were the core of that church had to be pulled out of the insular upper room to position the Gospel within the wider culture of Jerusalem.
So as they looked out their windows, they saw a Jewish culture consisting of Jews from the Diaspora:
5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” Acts 2:5-8, 12
They could have kept themselves hidden in their bunker but the house they were building was not for us four and no more but for those around them. In their case it was “God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.”
They positioned their house so as to find connections between the Gospel and their culture with incredible results: “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” Acts 2:41
It’s all about positioning the house of the Lord. You see the same thing again in the Ephesian house of the Lord. They were never meant to huddle as a small group of 12 tucked away somewhere for 25 years.
That’s like saying the church exists only for us and we really don’t want anyone coming in here. How absurd would that be?
Under Paul’s leadership, and with the leading of the Holy Spirit, they positioned their church to become this great multicultural church reflective of the surrounding demographics and opportunities.
Take a look at what happened: “This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.” Acts 19:10
Another example of this was the church in Antioch.
It came from incredibly humble origins. It started as no more than a beachhead of believers, but who saw the potential of this port city which would eventually would give rise to this amazing “sending forth” church that was responsible for overseeing the missionary journeys outlined in Acts:
“Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.” Acts 13:1-3
Every one of these churches had the same thing in common namely they positioned themselves in their local environments so as to capitalize on the natural bridges for the Gospel.
The same thing is true for us. There is no sense building a house if its windows and doors are positioned wrong. You want windows facing the vista just beyond and doors that open widely and easily to the whosoever around us.
This is what we mean when we say: “To position our church as an intergenerational family church among those looking for a community that values biblical faith connecting with contemporary culture.”
Some call this strategic positioning; in fact, that is what we are also calling it as well but in reality it’s all about windows and doors.
Windows so that we can look out and see the opportunities and windows, and also so people can look in and check us out.
Doors so that we can go out among our neighbors to invite them in, and also for those around us to come in through our doors and find a home right here.
So what does that look like for us? Who are the people of Ephesus and Jerusalem right here in the north end near Scott and Vine?
Thankfully, we don’t have to look hard or scratch deep since it’s pretty obvious who is around us.
Surrounding us and right in front of our noses are four key groups of people namely recent immigrants and refugees, low-income families, community seniors and well-to-do boomers.
We want to position our spiritual house much like they did in Jerusalem, Ephesus or Antioch which for us means the following:
To develop a community-based outreach called Families Matter that focuses on and embraces low-income families – Sabrina/Kelly
To develop an outreach with a focus among boomers (from age 50-69) called Boomerang – Katie/Ruth (ghostwriting)
To develop a community-based outreach that embraces and supports land-based immigrants called Welcome Home – Andres/Bill & Diana
To develop a community-based outreach that embraces seniors (65+) called Seniors First- Mel & Helen Thiessen, Carol Lay
Home Sweet Home
In wrapping this up, I want to tell you that each of our ministries is committed to building our dream house of the same set of blue prints, using the same raw material, on the same foundation, with the same commitment to positioning!
We all want to be on the same page since we know Jesus’ warning on a house divided: “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” Mk. 3:25
It makes no sense for everyone running off doing his or her own thing. We all build off the same set of blueprints around here.
And as we do – and with this I close – we want our house to be a home.
We want our porch light on, the house lights warm and inviting, we want a Great Room that serves as a family rec room where we can hang out, talk and build community.
And let’s include a big old country kitchen where lots of yummy food for the whole person – body, soul and spirit – is served up hot, steamy and tasty.
We want our bedrooms to be big and warm, as people find their spiritual rest.
We want there to be a big old mudroom as people throw off their old garments and dirty boots, and washrooms with showers that can wash away the filthiest stains.
We want a main floor laundry room for garments of white and an oversized and yet warm library for unhurried study and learning.
We want lots of doors for people to find their way in with doors that are never locked. Of course there are windows; big windows and lots of windows so that those on the outside can almost taste and see that the Lord is good.
They should see it on our faces, see it in our smiles and see it in our joy. That actually brings me to how I think we need to end the Service today.
Today is the day we officially dedicate our new foyer space called the Gathering.
(Jurgen to walk down the isle, inviting people to follow him while Matt plays ‘Home’ from the foyer)
Here you can find several messages. Feel free to write your thoughts or questions in the comment section.